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Source: (consider it) Thread: Another idea of eternity
Schroedinger's cat

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# 64

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After some interesting discussion on the Idea of Eternity thread, there is another ide or way of seeing eternity that I would also like to explore.

So this was inspired partly by David Eaglemans series on the The Brain (which is a brilliant series). He confirmed a view that the world we experience is not real. What we see, hear, feel, smell and taste has no reality - it is all just the brain interpreting the electrical signals we get. It is not "real". It only exists because our brain interprets this in a consistent way.

Without our brain interpreting the signals, we would experience nothing. Significantly, when the pathways to the optic nerve were looked at, there were more signals from the brain to the eye than the other way around - that is, the majority of what we "see" comes from our brains, not our eyes.

The truth is, we live in the Matrix. We live in a constructed world.

So my second idea of eternity is that eternity is what happens when we give up this false connection to what we think of as reality, and embrace the true reality. Which is something we cannot appreciate, because our brains cannot engage with it.

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rolyn
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# 16840

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You may be talking there of something many claim to get from really full-on meditation. Although, AIUI, meditation techniques are more about letting go of the Ego. Presumably this allows the 'free-flow' experience you may be describing with the eye/brain thing without interference from normal 'clatter'.

Not faith in Eternity as such but the way practitioners speak it does sound very much like a drug free high, or pathway to somewhere or another.

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Hedgehog

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# 14125

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quote:
Originally posted by Schroedinger's cat:
So my second idea of eternity is that eternity is what happens when we give up this false connection to what we think of as reality, and embrace the true reality. Which is something we cannot appreciate, because our brains cannot engage with it.

I think Buddhists beat you to it. All conditioned things are illusion. There is no "I." Nirvana/Nibbana is achieved by shedding all attachment to these illusions.

Of course, if you don't shed these attachments, you have to face rebirth cycles stretching out (potentially) over hundreds of thousands of aeons. And what is an aeon? Oh, a single aeon is measured by the arising and dissolving of a cosmos. So, several hundreds of thousands of those...

[My usual disclaimer that I am still just reading up on Buddhism. So, while I think I have it straight, I will not be offended when li'lBuddha comes along and tells me that I have it all screwed up again.]

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"We must regain the conviction that we need one another, that we have a shared responsibility for others and the world, and that being good and decent are worth it."--Pope Francis, Laudato Si'

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Schroedinger's cat

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# 64

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I think there is a difference, because reincarnation is not really part of what I am thinking of. And spiritual enlightenment is not achieved by realising this (contra the Matrix idea).

I think there is some overlap here, but I am trying (once again) to find a way of understanding this in ways that make scientific sense, as far as possible. And it is an acknowledgement that the "real" - physical and empirical - world is nothing of the sort. And the possibilty that there is some actual reality beyond this.

Bearing in mind that whenever I expound my idea of reality being a hallucination, I end up in an argument with people who tell me that is meaningless, I think to interpret this as being fundamental to an understanding of eternity should be interesting.

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Hedgehog

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# 14125

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Well, rebirth is not the same thing as reincarnation. And the goal of Buddhism is to avoid rebirth, to overcome the concept of "self" or the illusion of "self." In that sense, the goal of Buddhism is similar to your idea of an eternity that the brain cannot engage with (if we equate "self" with "brain"). Buddhism aims for detachment from the sensory forms, because they are essentially illusion. Your statement:
quote:
And it is an acknowledgement that the "real" - physical and empirical - world is nothing of the sort. And the possibilty that there is some actual reality beyond this.
...is exactly what a Buddhist would say. At least, as far as my readings have gone.

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"We must regain the conviction that we need one another, that we have a shared responsibility for others and the world, and that being good and decent are worth it."--Pope Francis, Laudato Si'

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Martin60
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# 368

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Both.

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Schroedinger's cat

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# 64

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This has set me thinking.

I think there is a difference between this and the buddhist idea of nirvana.

Firstly, Nirvana is (as I understand it) about being absorbed into "the one". Whereas the Christian view - and the one I an considering - is individuality continuing to exist. The importance of individuality and the persistence of this is critical.

Secondly, the comment above about the aim being to reach this Nirvana, whereas there is something else that is the purpose of the Christian life. Christianity is about bringing God to the the world, to the other people (who don't really exist).

The purpose of the Christian faith is different, so the purpose and meaning of eternity is very different.

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Lord may all my hard times be healing times
take out this broken heart and renew my mind.

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Martin60
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# 368

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How's that working out for Christianity?

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Love wins

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mousethief

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# 953

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I'm not sure where you want to go with the "everything is made up in our mind" kind of thing. Because clearly it's not true, at least as it is usually naïvely put. You and I can agree on things that neither of us caused that are "out there." Solipsism is all well and good, but I don't think anybody with a halfway healthy mental situation buys it.

When you say "Without our brain interpreting the signals, we would experience nothing" that's just a tautology. Our brains interpreting signals is HOW we experience. It's sort of like saying that if there isn't a screen, a movie projector does nobody any good. Yeah, that's inherent in the whole idea of a movie projector.

But so what? We have no "direct" experience of "the world," but we can't even say what would that would consist of. I don't mean direct experience of God -- that may or may not be the result of meditation. But direct experience of the tree in my back yard. What does that mean? The very question is meaningless.

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“Religion doesn't fuck up people, people fuck up religion.”—lilBuddha

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anteater

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# 11435

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quote:
He confirmed a view that the world we experience is not real.
I'm not sure I understand what you mean by this, and I can't help wondering if you do.

In common sense terms it is real, and I am tempted to apply the (possibly mythical) G. E. Moore test, that since it is not real perhaps you will happily give this unreal rock a good kicking.

Perhaps you could explain by citing something that is real, since if nothing is real then the concept is useless. So give me an example of something real and then please explain what this has and the bunch of flowers in my garden does not have which makes the former real but not the latter?

The fact that we perceive reality via various electro-chemical processes, is to me irrelevant to whether what we perceive is real. As also if the fact that we will all perceive it differently. That does not make it unreal in my book.

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que sais-je
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# 17185

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quote:
Originally posted by anteater:
I am tempted to apply the (possibly mythical) G. E. Moore test, that since it is not real perhaps you will happily give this unreal rock a good kicking.

I thought that was Dr Johnson.

Otherwise I agree with you entirely. The Penguin Dictionary of Philosophy has no entry for 'real' or 'reality' - just one for 'realism' which, without a definition of it's subject doesn't make much sense.

Does anyone out there have a reliable, non-circular, definition?

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"controversies, disputes, and argumentations, both in philosophy and in divinity, if they meet with discreet and peaceable natures, do not infringe the laws of charity" (Thomas Browne)

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Martin60
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# 368

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Seconded. I'd have firsted but I'm posting too much.

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Love wins

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Schroedinger's cat

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# 64

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Let me try to explore further.

The image at the head of this post is partly orange. However, there is no orange. All there is is 1s and 0s in an image file that, when displayed on my screen indicates to elements on the screen to emit light of a certain frequency. Orange is only the emission of light at a certain frequency.

Light at this frequency stimulates certain cells in my eye, which send electrical signals to my brain, and these are interpreted as being "orange". There is no light - there are just electrical signals. And it is impossible to tell whether two people see the same thing. In fact, they probably don't. The notion of "orange" is something defined by my brain in response to certain electrical signals. I have seen a fascinating Ian McKenna trick which proves that the mind is crucial in the interpretation of colour - and can be tricked.

And, to take this further, it is just electrical signals that "move my hands" and "feel the keys" There is nothing other than these elecrtical signals. And the understanding that we have of this being the brain that processes information is also part of our information gathering.

This is almost turning the "Empirical world" on it's head, because all of the empirical evidence of the world is only a set of electrical signals. Nothing more.

These signals can come into anything. It may be that I am the only real enntity - everyone else I encounter is just part of this fabricated world. Or it could be that there are many of us, but we are all in different worlds, that none of us actually experience the same as another.

I think the problem with arguing that "Nothing is real" is that it is proveably untrue, because "real" is a construct based on our interpretation. So what we see is "real" but it is definitively limited, and our real existence may well be different, because the thing that senses it all may not be what we think.

Or something like that.

--------------------
Blog
Music for your enjoyment
Lord may all my hard times be healing times
take out this broken heart and renew my mind.

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Martin60
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# 368

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Real is real whether you're real or not.

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Love wins

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mousethief

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# 953

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quote:
Originally posted by Schroedinger's cat:
Let me try to explore further.

The image at the head of this post is partly orange. However, there is no orange. All there is is 1s and 0s in an image file that, when displayed on my screen indicates to elements on the screen to emit light of a certain frequency. Orange is only the emission of light at a certain frequency.

Light at this frequency stimulates certain cells in my eye, which send electrical signals to my brain, and these are interpreted as being "orange". There is no light - there are just electrical signals. And it is impossible to tell whether two people see the same thing. In fact, they probably don't. The notion of "orange" is something defined by my brain in response to certain electrical signals. I have seen a fascinating Ian McKenna trick which proves that the mind is crucial in the interpretation of colour - and can be tricked.

And, to take this further, it is just electrical signals that "move my hands" and "feel the keys" There is nothing other than these elecrtical signals. And the understanding that we have of this being the brain that processes information is also part of our information gathering.

This is almost turning the "Empirical world" on it's head, because all of the empirical evidence of the world is only a set of electrical signals. Nothing more.

These signals can come into anything. It may be that I am the only real enntity - everyone else I encounter is just part of this fabricated world. Or it could be that there are many of us, but we are all in different worlds, that none of us actually experience the same as another.

I think the problem with arguing that "Nothing is real" is that it is proveably untrue, because "real" is a construct based on our interpretation. So what we see is "real" but it is definitively limited, and our real existence may well be different, because the thing that senses it all may not be what we think.

Or something like that.

The answer to all of which is, if you'll forgive me, "So?"

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“Religion doesn't fuck up people, people fuck up religion.”—lilBuddha

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Schroedinger's cat

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# 64

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So - yes. It doesn't definitively impact me, but it is my trying to understand eternity.

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Lord may all my hard times be healing times
take out this broken heart and renew my mind.

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Schroedinger's cat

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# 64

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And it is a red/blue pill situation. Those who go down the blue pill route, who want to remain in the world as they have always known it. And that is not (unlike the Matrix) a criticism - it is perfectly reasonable to continue in the world we know. It is very tempting.

But what if, unlike the Matrix, the reality behind this is better than the reality we know? If it is not the result of a war, but it has always been the case. If the other reality is something that mystics and Buddhists and others occasionally engage with, that is something way beyond our comprehension. But in a positive way.

I suppose the only way it changes me is that I want to envisage a reality bigger, more, than the little one we exist in.

REd is reality, blue is safety

--------------------
Blog
Music for your enjoyment
Lord may all my hard times be healing times
take out this broken heart and renew my mind.

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quetzalcoatl
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# 16740

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Some Buddhists, at the more radical end of the spectrum, might argue that 'better' is itself an illusion. But this pertains to dualism, and overcoming it, which is a big topic.

There is some very interesting stuff on enlightenment and non-enlightenment, since of course, we tend to assume that the former is 'better'. However, it depends on your point of view, and enlightenment does not have one, so the positing of 'better' just fixes us in dualism. This might also pertain to eternity, which could be describe as no point of view, or no boundaries. This is very frightening stuff.

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the main fear that flat-earthers face is sphere itself.

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Martin60
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# 368

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So unkindness is as good as kindness?

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Love wins

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quetzalcoatl
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# 16740

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quote:
Originally posted by Martin60:
So unkindness is as good as kindness?

Who said it's good?

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the main fear that flat-earthers face is sphere itself.

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Martin60
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# 368

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How enlightened.

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Love wins

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Schroedinger's cat

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# 64

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quote:
Originally posted by quetzalcoatl:
Some Buddhists, at the more radical end of the spectrum, might argue that 'better' is itself an illusion. But this pertains to dualism, and overcoming it, which is a big topic.

There is some very interesting stuff on enlightenment and non-enlightenment, since of course, we tend to assume that the former is 'better'. However, it depends on your point of view, and enlightenment does not have one, so the positing of 'better' just fixes us in dualism. This might also pertain to eternity, which could be describe as no point of view, or no boundaries. This is very frightening stuff.

Good point. And yes, I used the term "better" only to counteract the "worse" that reality is in the Matrix. I guess it is more that it might be so different that we cannot comprehend it in our terms.

It is frightening, disturbing, challenging. But it is also - like the Matrix - more and real, and exciting. And maybe truer.

Of course, it might also be complete rubbish.

--------------------
Blog
Music for your enjoyment
Lord may all my hard times be healing times
take out this broken heart and renew my mind.

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quetzalcoatl
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# 16740

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quote:
Originally posted by Martin60:
How enlightened.

Well, it's a genuine question, which you seem unwilling to answer.

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the main fear that flat-earthers face is sphere itself.

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Martin60
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# 368

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Good has a couple of meanings which could apply here, but only the colloquial sense of equivalent does. As we can't talk morality?

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Love wins

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lilBuddha
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# 14333

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quote:
Originally posted by Hedgehog:

[My usual disclaimer that I am still just reading up on Buddhism. So, while I think I have it straight,

Buddhism is as uniform as Christianity, so good luck getting it "straight". [Biased]

quote:

I will not be offended when li'lBuddha comes along and tells me that I have it all screwed up again.]

Buddhism isn't as rigid as Christianity,* so as long as you do not wander too far into the weeds, you'll be fine.

*ism, not ists and comparatively.

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So goodnight moon, I want the sun
If it's not here soon, I might be done
No it won't be too soon 'til I say goodnight moon

- A. N. Parsley, D. Mcvinni

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mousethief

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# 953

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quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
quote:
Originally posted by Hedgehog:

[My usual disclaimer that I am still just reading up on Buddhism. So, while I think I have it straight,

Buddhism is as uniform as Christianity, so good luck getting it "straight". [Biased]
Once you get it straight, Hedgehog, promise you'll come back as a Bodhisattva to help the rest of us.

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“Religion doesn't fuck up people, people fuck up religion.”—lilBuddha

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Hedgehog

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# 14125

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quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
quote:
Originally posted by Hedgehog:

[My usual disclaimer that I am still just reading up on Buddhism. So, while I think I have it straight,

Buddhism is as uniform as Christianity, so good luck getting it "straight". [Biased]
Once you get it straight, Hedgehog, promise you'll come back as a Bodhisattva to help the rest of us.
If I got it completely straight I would be, at the very least, a non-returner, so I guess I'll have to screw something up to come back as a Bodhisattva. Fortunately, I foresee no serious problem with screwing up something. It is [he added modestly] rather a talent of mine.

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"We must regain the conviction that we need one another, that we have a shared responsibility for others and the world, and that being good and decent are worth it."--Pope Francis, Laudato Si'

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